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Man rescued after being pinned to MARTA tracks by wheelchair

1:16 AM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- It started just like any other day at MARTA's busiest station. However, at 10:27am on December 10, 2012, a rider fell onto the tracks at Five Points.

Senior MARTA officer Eugenio Pizarro heard a "lot of noise and commotion."

Officer Pizarro rushed downstairs to the platform of the Eastbound lane and found a man on the tracks.

Making the already dangerous situation even more precarious, the MARTA rider on the tracks was pinned under his wheelchair.

"Somehow he lost control of his wheelchair," Officer Pizarro said.

MARTA'S Surveillance video shows the rider's wheelchair lurch forward, stop and then go over onto tracks.

"At the speed, he was able to clear the third rail and land in the middle," the responding officer explained.

Officer Pizarro says the man landed face down and the heavy wheelchair was on top of him.

"My big concern was that it was a wheelchair that was about 500 pounds so i was really concerned the wheelchair crushed him on the back," he said.

Officer Pizarro and his colleagues didn't have much time.
"You've got steps on every corner but on that day it wasn't practical so I just jumped down to the track," he said.

Another officer ran to cut power to keep the next train from speeding into the station at 40 miles an hour.

Officer Pizarro reassured the 52-year-old man Atlanta Fire and EMS crews were on the way.

"I told him, ''Rescue was coming, just stay here with me,'" he explained.

Officer Pizarro isn't new to emergencies on the job.

Above his name plate is "Medal of Police Chief Award" from a year ago. Far from the tracks, Pizarro tried to save a man with CPR. That rider didn't survive.

This seven year member of MARTA's team is humble. Officer Pizzaro says, in both situations, he was just doing his job.

"We're... all the time... glad to help and do whatever we can."

The man rescued from the tracks didn't want to speak on camera but says he's OK other than a gash to his head. And his motorized wheelchair is in the shop.

The 52-year old says he's been in a wheelchair since he was hit by another driver a few years ago while he was by the roadside tending to a problem with his own vehicle.

MARTA does have a safety video it encourages all bus and train riders to watch. You'll find the link here and reminds all riders to follow these safety tips:

  • Wait for bus in shelter 
  • Wait for bus to leave before crossing 
  • Don't run after bus 
  • Keep aisle clear 
  • Walk to catch train 
  • Stand behind the gray line in station 
  • Never enter tracks 
  • Never lean on train doors 
  • Stand to right on escalator 
  • Never try to stop a closing elevator 
  • Hold child's hand on escalator


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